School board novices led initial returns in the Elk Grove and San Juan school districts, while two of three seats in Natomas Unified remained close.
In Sacramento City Unified, Christina Pritchett led as of 11 p.m. with 43 percent of the vote over Eric Sunderland (28 percent) and Mark Ambrose (27 percent) for the Area 3 seat filled by Donald Terry.
"There was a lot of hard work," Pritchett said Tuesday night. "That's for sure."
Pritchett said she took her daughter, son and father to get a massage and didn't check her phone until 9 p.m. At that point, she said she saw messages congratulating her for her early lead.
"I broke out in tears," Pritchett, a school volunteer said. "I've been so involved in the community and it's paying off in the results."
Sacramento City Unified incumbent Patrick Kennedy held a strong lead in Area 7 with 63 percent, while challenger Ralph Merletti held 36 percent of initial returns.
In Elk Grove Unified, Steve Ly led with 65 percent of the vote over appointed incumbent Jake Rambo (34 percent) in Area 6, while Carmine Forcina led with 40 percent against appointed incumbent Alfred "Al" Rowlett (32 percent) in Area 7.
Tony Perez took a strong lead with 45 percent over Susan Parvis (33 percent) for the open Area 1 seat.
In San Juan Unified, where voters could select three candidates, Pam Costa led with 27 percent, while four others followed - Saul Hernandez (16.8), Lucinda Luttgen (16.3 percent), Mark Lennon (15.4) and Mike McKibbin (15).
In Natomas, a handful of votes separated candidates running for three seats as incumbent Susan Heredia (17 percent) led, followed by Ryan Herche (13.5), Karen Bernal (12.8), Scott Dosick (12.5) and incumbent Bruce Roberts (12.3 percent).
In Natomas Unified's 2010 board election, it took 17 days to confirm a winner after two candidates were separated by 20 votes.
"I'd be surprised if this is resolved by tomorrow," Herche said. "It could be days, even weeks."